When someone has been raped or sexually assaulted, they obviously need a great deal of support from the people around them. This could include friends and family members as well as people like counsellors, the police, doctors and so on. Knowing what to say or do can sometimes be hard but there are some key ways in which you can help:
Listen to what s/he has to say in their own time and try to understand.
Believe. People very rarely lie about rape or sexual abuse. Why would they? It is important to believe what they are saying.
Respect their feelings and decisions. Crying can be part of the healing process.
Remember it is not their fault - no-one asks to be sexually assaulted or abused and no-one deserves it. No-one can be blamed for being unable to prevent it.
Recognise the courage it takes for someone to speak. It takes a great deal to face up to fears and to talk about any experience of sexual violence. It can be important for you to acknowledge the courage it has taken for them to speak about what has happened.
Don't take control. Sexual violence makes people feel invaded, changed and out of control; try to imagine how this feels, and try to do what helps them rather than what makes you feel better. Listen to what they want. It is crucial that they be able to make their own decisions and regain influence over what happens in their lives in order to rebuild trust and strength. Ask them how they want to be helped, and in trying to do this you'll help rebuild their trust.
We also have some information sheets that you might find helpful, either for yourself or to give to the person you are supporting and we offer training on a range of topics, including how to respond to disclosures of sexual violence.